Rochester NY or The Place To Be

“I’m a pixie, I’m a paper doll, I’m a cartoon” Ani Difranco

Music has always had an effect on me. It brings memories rushing to the surface, good and bad. When my iPod shuffles to an Ani D song that I have not heard in a while, most likely my thoughts will turn to Rochester, NY.

This past week, there was a flower show in the “flower city” and a few people that I follow on twitter were in attendance. In an attempt to make sure they enjoyed their visit, I suggested a few establishments to peruse while off from the show. Unfortunately, they were unable to visit these places, but I want to highlight them here, for future visitors to one of my favourite cities. Even though I retuned to Buffalo, NY, for work, I still miss Rochester and hope that the writer and I will be able to return some day and make our life work there.

In the meantime, we are only an hours drive away from some great restaurants, art galleries, film houses and cafes. Here is a sampling of some great places to see the next time you visit RaChaCha.

Those of you that know me probably figure that the first place I will talk about is Java’s on Gibbs. This is one of my favourite places to hang out while visiting, but the last time the writer and I were in town we found a place that I enjoyed even more, amazingly enough. That place was Boulder Coffee Company on Alexander Street. The atmosphere was very relaxing and the coffee was wonderful. I did not get that usual acidic reaction, like I do at Javas, where I have to quickly reach for my papaya tablets to fend of agita. I was able to drink the whole cup without incident and the sandwich was extra yum. I did not feel like I was in the way, as I usually do at Java’s, since the tables and chairs were set up in a good proximity to one another.

Let me stop for a moment to talk about this phenomenon of feeling “in the way”. This is something that women have to deal with, on a conscious or unconscious basis, daily. Men do not seem to have this issue, usually. This relates to the power dynamics that still persist in our society. Men are looked upon as being powerful, and this is normalized, by taking up as much space as they need and want. Women, for the most part, often strive to make themselves smaller. Either through the crossing of legs, the squeezing into girdles and spanx, or by not eating to become smaller mass-wise. These are ways in which women have had to live in order to not make a “spectacle” of the themselves. When a woman sits “like a man” with legs uncrossed she is either given dirty looks, in order to make her comply, or she is looked upon as “masculine” as if this is a bad thing. The norm, in American society, is for men to be in power and women to be subordinate. Even in these days of feminism and moving toward equality, these ideals still persist, under the surface. They rise up at times to push women back into their proverbial cubbyholes and, in essence, keep them in line with the norms. Two steps forward, one step back. This is the plight of feminism in the 21st century. I will continue this in my next post, on Ren Faires, so stay tuned. In the meantime, back to Rochester…

A place that the writer and I love to eat is on Park Avenue. Actually, there are two favourite places on Park. The first is Hogan’s Hideaway and the second, Magnolia’s. Hogan’s has the best Reubens and Crabcake sandwiches that we have had and the beer selection is sufficient. We enjoy hanging out in the bar area or sitting in the dining room as the atmosphere of both spaces is very relaxed.

Magnolias has the best paninis and pizzas in town and a great selection of craft beers to drink with lunch or to take home in six pack form. While living in Corn Hill, the writer and I made the effort to visit Magnolias many times. The service there is very homey and the food is fantastic. The seating is not the most comfortable, but the summer months bring one of the best patios in the city, well worth the trip.

If brunch is more your style, Jines is the place to be. Also on Park Avenue, this establishment has the BEST stuffed French toast you will find in the city. A few other diner locations, such as Gitsie’s, Jay’s, or Mark’s all serve awesome breakfasts, but for brunch I would definitely recommend Jine’s. Even if there is a wait to be seated, it is well worth it.

Leaving behind food and drink, let me tell you about a few entertainment venues that are not to be missed while visiting RaChaCha. If you are looking to see a great indie film, the Little Theatre on East Avenue, is the place to be. The Cinema, on South Clinton at South Goodman, offers low prices for second run movies and a great old theatre to view them in. This theatre was, and most likely still is, home to the R.I.T. Film studies program senior project screenings. The writer’s classmates had their senior screenings here and it was the perfect venue for these events.

The George Eastman House is a great tour to take while visiting and if you time it right, you can also partake in a screening of an old or indie film. Just wandering the house and gift shoppe are a great way to spend the afternoon. The second floor has a very interesting, although morbid, case that tells a bit of the George Eastman history that is not to be overlooked. Eccentric and fabulously wealthy, George Eastman was nothing if not ostentatious and this tour proves it.

As museums go, the Memorial Art Gallery has an excellent collection to view. Located on University Avenue, it is connected to the University of Rochester and houses several collections of fine and craft arts. For the kids, the Strong Museum of Play is a great place to spend an afternoon. Many interactive displays are present and will keep the kids and the adults busy.

If walking is what you enjoy, Rochester boasts several parks and recreational areas right in the city limits. A favourite, from my time living in the city, was Highland Park. Movies in the park are put on at the Highland Bowl in the summer months, as well as Shakespeare in the Park. The Lilac Festival is held here in mid-May each year and the lilacs themselves are a wonderful addition to any walk through the park. An afternoon in the park with a journal to write in, a good book to read, or an excellent cup of coffee can make any week more enjoyable.

For live theatre buffs, the best place in the city is the Geva Theatre. Celebrating the 40th season this year, the Geva has been putting on excellent regional theatre productions since 1972. If you are looking for a great performance, look no further than the Geva. For great live bands, the place to visit is the Bug Jar, on Monroe Avenue. This venue hosts dj nights as well and, if nothing else, it is worth a trip for a beer and a gander at the “bug fan”.

I hope that you enjoy your next visit to Rochester. Writing about it has made me want to pack up the car and get away. Maybe next weekend, see you there!

Peace and happy day tripping,
Chantale aka hippiegrrl

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